Deciding to propose is a big milestone in anyone’s life. Since it’s an important moment and ordeal, there’s a lot that goes into the actual act. While you’re considering different elements, such as the ring, the location, and the speech, take some time to learn about some hiccups that happen during proposals, so that you can avoid them when the special moment arrives.
While there's no such thing as the perfect proposal—every couple is different—there are certain do’s and don'ts of asking the big question, so it helps to study how not to propose to avoid blunders. From asking in front of an audience to being unsure of your SO’s answer, here are the most common proposal mistakes to avoid to ensure that your proposal goes off without a hitch.
While movies (and Youtube) tend to steer the viewer in the direction of a public proposal, lots of people aren’t fans of all that attention, especially when a very intimate moment takes place. Before planning to propose at a restaurant, theme park, or via a billboard, make sure that your SO is on board with strangers being present as the proposal goes down. Unless they’ve specifically mentioned it, try to keep the proposal a little more private so that the two of you can really bask in the joy of the big moment.
Even though you might think a proposal needs lots of bells and whistles to be special, that’s not actually the case. Most couples prefer a proposal that feels true to their relationship, as opposed to overly flashy, so before planning a flash mob, elaborate scavenger hunt, or hiring a skywriter, really think about whether or not that feels right to your bond. Plus, the more moving pieces involved in the proposal, the harder it is to pull off (and keep a secret). The most important part of the proposal is telling your SO what you love about him or her, why you want to marry him or her, and pulling out the ring. Consider adding one or two really special elements to “wow” your almost-fiancé(e).
It doesn’t matter if you plan for a lowkey proposal, making it too casual is a big mistake. The act is still sacred, and chances are that your SO has dreamed about the moment. Even if you don’t opt for an elaborate display, you still need to make it special. Don’t just propose on a whim, without planning what you want to say or do, in a casual manner so that you/your SO are disappointed. This could lead to your emotions getting in the way of your words, and consequently your big moment. When looking back, this is one of those moments you’ll remember forever, so make sure to put some planning into the where and how to make sure that it does your relationship justice.
Chances are, once you decide to propose, you’re going to be very excited (and probably a little nervous, too). Wanting to share your plans with friends and family is totally normal, but be extra cautious of who you choose to tell and how far in advance. The more people who know, the greater the odds of the news traveling and your SO learning something is up before you get the chance to propose. Try to only tell a handful of people, and preferably those who don’t have contact with your future fiancé, such as co-workers or childhood pals.
No matter how much tradition means to your SO, there’s a good chance that he or she still dreams of having an engagement ring—whether or not it’s a classic diamond. Unless your partner has specifically said that he or she doesn’t want a ring, it’s a good idea to propose with one as a symbol of your commitment. If your partner asked for something else instead (such as a different piece of jewelry), make sure to have it selected, fitted, and ready by the time of your proposal.
One of the most exciting parts of the actual proposal is the element of surprise, so do your best to cover your tracks so that your SO doesn’t suspect an engagement is on the near horizon, before you actually get to ask the question. Hide the ring in a very secret spot and try to avoid dropping any sort of hint or acting out of character if the topic of marriage or engagements come up. As the day approaches, do your best to keep the nerves at bay—which means that you might actually have to avoid your SO the hours leading up to your proposal, if you’re feeling the pressure.
Some people have very clear visions of their proposal, while others just want the moment to happen. If your SO has expressed specific dreams (or ring details) in regards to getting engaged, take those into consideration when planning for the moment. That doesn’t mean you have to do exactly what he or she pictured, but take elements of it for a proposal that not only touches upon what he or she envisioned, but surprises him or her, too. A good example is if your SO wanted to get engaged under the Northern Lights. Planning that type of trip is tricky, but you could instead set up a tent in your backyard with a night sky projector inside, and adorn the outside with candles and rose petals to up the romance factor. This shows that you listen and care about what he or she wants, but also that you’re willing to get creative in order to make his or her dreams come true.
While the nerves are likely to be high come time for the actual proposal, it’s important to lead up to the moment with a few words outlining why you want to get married. Consider talking about your favorite moments from your time spent together, what you hope the future looks like, and the things you love about your SO before uttering those four very special words.
While hiding the ring in a glass of Champagne or on top of a luxurious dessert might seem like the ultimate proposal move, in reality, it’s not exactly the best way to go about starting an engagement. If your partner doesn’t accidentally swallow (or worse, choke on or chip a tooth on) the ring, there’s a chance that the ring will wind up sticky, get food wedged in a nook, or just otherwise be less shiny for the big reveal. Wait until after the proposal to pop the bubbly so you can admire the ring—and bask in that post-engagement glow—stress-free.
While you don’t have to have a verbal “yes” before your actual proposal, you want to make sure that you’re both on the same page before getting down on one knee. Proposing is a big step that leads to an even bigger step, so it’s not something to rush, no matter how in love you are. If you’ve talked about your futures together, have lived together (or at least spend a solid chunk of time learning each other’s quirks), and you’ve even discussed marriage and/or children, that’s a good sign that you both might be at the same place in regards to being ready for a lifetime together.
Whether you propose at a fancy dinner, on a beautiful overlook, or just in your own backyard, all that matters is that it’s right for your relationship. Plan, practice, and try to keep your nerves at bay, and it will be a memory that you’ll cherish for years to come.